Staffordshire University’s response to ‘Tapping Therapy’ article

Media claims about the effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are largely false, an article by The Henry Mayhew Foundation revealed. Despite this, doctors and academics are promoting EFT on the NHS, a move one expert has called “irresponsible.”

The BBC and the Daily Mail appeared to recycle a Staffordshire University press release, which says:

“Health researchers from Staffordshire University have called on NHS Trusts across the UK to adopt a new emerging self-help method known as tapping – or emotional freedom technique (EFT) – after its effectiveness for treating a number of conditions was proven (emphasis added).”

Two studies were mentioned supporting this claim, but one was unpublished, so we could not verify its findings. The other study, conducted in 2013 by Antony Stewart, Professor of Public Health, and his team, looked at EFT’s effectiveness in treating various emotional conditions.

The authors claim the results “highlight the successful role of EFT in reducing a wide range of physical and psychological disorders.” However, the paper says “the limitations of the study design … precludes the ability to infer its results to the wider population,” which means EFT was not proven effective. We spoke to experts who supported this view.

Staffordshire University responded by saying:

“The press release is a journalistic interpretation of the research being carried out by Staffordshire University into EFT. It has been written and issued in good faith to accurately communicate the story to a broad audience. The use of the word ‘proven’ in the first sentence concurs with its dictionary definition to ‘demonstrate the truth of by evidence or argument’.

We stand by the content of the full press release and are happy for you to publish this in its entirety on your website to provide context and balance.

In particular I would draw your attention to paragraph two which states that EFT ‘is showing promise as an effective form of therapy for anxiety and depression.’ I would also draw your attention to the quote from Dr Liz Boath. She says: ‘Our view is that all new therapies and treatment start with little or no evidence and further good quality studies into EFT would confirm its effectiveness, safety and potential within the NHS.’

As you know, an academic paper has also been published in the Journal of Psychological Therapies in Primary Care. This was clear that the Sandwell study was a feasibility study, the results of which could not be inferred to the whole population. The article was open about its limitations, and said that more studies, including larger studies with larger sample sizes were required – ‘preferably clinical trials’ (i.e. RCTs). It added: ‘Further research is ongoing, which may provide definitive evidence of its effectiveness’ (emphasis added).”

Comments

  1. Dr Shoshana Garfield says:

    For a meta-analysis review of evidence of iatrogenic deaths, see Dr Gary Null et al http://www.webdc.com/pdfs/deathbymedicine.pdf. I don’t have the time to see if it has been published in a peer-review journal; it seems interesting nonetheless. For a review of evidence for energy psychology within which EFT sits, see http://innersource.net/ep/images/stories/downloads/Acupoint_Stimulation_Research_Review.pdf, and, the research link on ACEP at http://www.energypsych.org.

  2. Dr Shoshana Garfield says:

    It seems to me that the University Press Release and the article are saying two different things – the article that there is something worth investigating further, backed by the study results, and the sensationalised press release baldy putting forth immodest and unsubstantiated claims. It seems the finger pointing should go at the Press Release Office, which strangely tried to back pedal with reasonable statements as if that backs up the unreasonable one.

    • But this article is about the “Media Claims” not the paper per se. I would also assume that the authors gave the press release the green light to publish.

  3. If it’s working…..why is there a need to prove it? Medication causes harm and deaths and that is still approved. Doesn’t seem to make sense.

    • HI Helena,

      How do we know that it’s working? How do we now that these patient aren’t just leaving the system to live out their lives carrying the burdens of their problems. What about the the £40k paid to Professor Stewart, authorised by his colleague Ian Walton? Wouldn’t this have covered that salary of a specialist nurse or a social worker for twelve months?

      Would you allow blood letting to be paid for by the NHS if it made some people feel better, I’m sure that if we root around we can find plenty of anecdotal evidence that it works!

      Your final statement needs some support too. What medications are approved after they’ve been shown to cause the death? Drug companies are driven by profit, like any other business including EFT based businesses, you may like to take a look at the efforts of All Trials here http://www.alltrials.net/ who are campaigning to make make medical trials open and clear unlike the authors of this service evaluation.

  4. wtf1962 says:

    I read this paper and noticed that in addition to the weasel wording and meaningless stats, the authors also forgot to disclose their conflict of interest as most are practitioners of and/or provide training in EFT. In what appears to be a quid pro quo arrangement Dr Walton also runs a MSc program via his chairmanship of PrimHe and runs a private course in hypnotherapy, both “validated” by Staffs Uni.

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